Celebration Cake


A few weeks ago I made my first ever celebration cake. People do these every day so I know it’s not a big deal, but it was a real baking milestone for me. It’s something I had always thought I’d like to do but had been putting it off out of fear and sheer laziness. It looked like it required so much planning and ingredients and most importantly you need time, which is a scarce commodity in my life at the moment. But I bit the bullet and offered to make my niece’s birthday cake. It was over the Christmas period so I knew I had a bit of flexibility. I wasn’t wrong about the time factor. It was one of the most laborious things I have made. But don’t let that put you off as it was also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever made. The biggest problem is you have to do things in stages as bits need to dry, cool etc. I think it also took longer because it was the first time I’d done it and I’m always slow when I’m out of my comfort zone. My nearly-4-year-old also wanted to ‘help’ which made the process a lot more fun, but also a lot longer! Although I have to say she was excellent at cutting out shapes and spraying the glitter (not always on the icing sadly – cleaning nightmare!!)

I was pleased with the end effect. After I had cleverly hidden all the faults with random icing shapes, it looked pretty good. And you just can’t go wrong with an adaptation of my Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcake recipe for the sponge. Would I make another one? Well I’ve bought all the kit now so if I don’t that was one very expensive cake! Plus, once you’ve made a cake for someone else you kind of have to make one for your own kids, otherwise the mum guilt goes into overdrive! Someone with 4 children recently told me that when she was working she made all her kids’ birthday cakes as a way to appease her guilt for not being around and now that she no longer works she feels guilty not to make them. So it sounds like there’s no turning back for me now!

Celebration Cake (makes an 8inch cake feeding approximately 14 people)

Ingredients for the sponge
– 140g unsalted butter, softened
– 300g caster sugar (yes it’s a lot!)
– 430g plain flour (sifted)
– 2 tablespoon baking powder (sifted)
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 350ml semi-skimmed milk
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or powder
– 3 large eggs or 4 medium eggs
Ingredients for the buttercream frosting (making more would be better to cover the cake well but I am paranoid about sugar)
– 225g icing sugar
– 80g unsalted butter, softened
– 25ml semi-skimmed milk
– 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or powder
Strawberry Jam for the filling
Ready to roll icing
– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan and grease and line 2 x 8 inch sandwich tins with baking paper
– Using a hand-held electric whisk or freestanding electric mixer slowly beat together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt until all the ingredients are well mixed and resemble fine breadcrumbs
– Mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla by hand in a jug. With the whisk still on a low speed, pour three-quarters of the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well to make sure all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Add the rest of the mixture and beat again on a medium setting until the batter is smooth
– You could just put all the ingredients in one bowl and whisk it together well. It works fine! But remember to put the ‘wet’ ingredients on top so your kitchen isn’t covered in flour!
– Spoon the batter into the cake tins, between half and two-thirds full. Put the in oven for 25 minutes. Check they are springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean, if not put in for a bit longer. Do not be tempted to open the oven door within the first 20 minutes. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and cooling on a wire rack
– While the cakes are in the oven make the frosting. Whisk the icing sugar and butter on a low speed using the electric whisk until fully combined and sandy in consistency. Add the vanilla to the milk and pour into the butter and icing sugar while still mixing on a low speed. Increase the speed to high and whisk the frosting until light and fluffy
– Once the cakes are cool use a knife to level them off so they sandwich neatly and sandwich them together with a thin layer of buttercream and a thicker layer of jam. Cover the whole cake (top and sides) with a layer of buttercream, taking particular care to fill in the gap between the two sponges (like cement!). Leave to chill in the fridge for half an hour or at room temperature for a couple of hours
– Roll out your base icing making sure it is large enough to fit the cake and not too thin at the edges or it will tear (mine did!)
– Use a rolling pin to lift the icing and place it over the cake. Smooth down and trim the edges. It’s very helpful to watch a youtube video for this
– Sugar craft work (flowers etc.) should be cut/made a day before as they stick better when hardened. Just brush some water onto the base icing and it should stick. Although through trial and error I found that decorations on the side of the cake (curve) worked better if they were soft otherwise they just snapped.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Espirational says:

    Congratulations on your first celebration cake! It’s darling.


  2. dip says:

    good job!!
    do you remember the cake i made for you?? that was my first cake xx


    1. Deepal I will never forget that cake!!


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